Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

May 3, 2013

Low-cost clinic

Great opportunity to vaccinate pets


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — With spring in full bloom across the region, area health officials are preparing for another troubling summer problem — rabies. Already this year three raccoons have tested positive for rabies in Mercer County.

Although a deadly virus, rabies is preventable in family pets that have up-to-date rabies shots. Unfortunately, not all dog and cat owners keep their animal’s vaccinations up to date — or have their pets vaccinated at all.

That’s why area pet owners are urged to take advantage of a low-cost rabies clinic planned in several locations across Mercer County Saturday. Dr. Gary Brown, of the Animal Care Center, is providing the low-cost rabies clinic. The rabies vaccine will be provided for $7, and other vaccines also will be available for a reduced cost. The clinic times and locations for Saturday are as follows:

• 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Airport Square, Brushfork

• Noon to 1:30 p.m., Athens Feed Store-Deli Mart, Athens

• 2 to 3 p.m., Animal Care Center off Willowbrook Road, Princeton.

We strongly urge all area pet owners to take advantage of the low-cost rabies clinic Saturday. The reduced-cost clinics are a great way to safeguard your pets and your family while also making sure your pets are up to date on their rabies vaccinations. In West Virginia, rabies shots are required every three years under state law.

Keeping animals vaccinated against rabies is critical to slowing the spread of the deadly disease, according to Doris Irwin, of the Mercer County Health Department.

In order to prevent the spread of rabies, Irwin said the health department reminds pet owners not to feed their pets outdoors. Many pets have been attacked at outdoor food bowls. Food left outdoors also attracts wild and stray animals.

Pet owners also are asked to close off or secure pet doors into their home so that only their pet may enter. They also are reminded not to feed or approach wild animals.

If you are bitten by an animal — wild or domestic — immediately wash the wound with warm soapy water, according to the health department. And then call your health care provider at once to determine if you need a rabies shot. Animal bites also must be reported to the Mercer County Health Department at 304-324-8367.

The best method of preventing this disease, in humans and animals, is to have pets vaccinated and to avoid contact with wild animals.

And free rabies clinics such as the three scheduled for Saturday in Mercer County are an ideal way to help ensure the local pet population is protected from this disease.

We encourage all dog and cat owners across the region to make time Saturday to have their pets properly vaccinated against rabies by attending these low-cost clinics.

Through awareness and preventive measures, we can help stem the outbreak of rabies across the region.